Abstract

Epidemiological studies showing the correlation between folate and the breast cancer risk have revealed inconsistent results. Hence, we conducted a dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies to obtain more reliable conclusions. We searched PubMed and Embase for studies published before April 2019 and identified 39 studies on folate intake and 12 studies on plasma folate level. The combined odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were extracted to estimate the breast cancer risk. Folate intake was inversely correlated with the breast cancer risk when the highest and lowest categories (OR = 0.85, 95% CI = 0.79–0.92) were compared, and the dose-response result showed that folate intake had a linear correlation with the breast cancer risk. Moreover, a higher folate intake correlated with a lower breast cancer risk in premenopausal women (OR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.66–0.97), but not in postmenopausal women (OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.83–1.06). However, plasma folate levels were not correlated with the breast cancer risk (OR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.82–1.17). Folate intake was negatively correlated with the breast cancer risk; however, its practical clinical significance requires further study. Furthermore, additional folate supplements should be considered carefully.